Date of this Version
Documentary Editing: Journal of the Association for Documentary Editing, Volume 32: 2011 ISSN 0196-7134
Following her trip in October 1875 to the Women’s Congress in Syracuse, Louisa May Alcott spent November and December at Dr. Miller’s Bath Hotel in New York City. There, she spent time with Sallie Holley (1818–1893), who was a frequent visitor at the Hotel. The two spent six weeks “go[ing] about together”: on Thanksgiving Day, they took a carriage ride together in Central Park; another day, they went to tea at the home of a cousin of Holley’s.1 Holley was among the “notables” Alcott remarked on in her Journal, along with Henry Ward Beecher, Bret Harte, Ann Booth, and Moncure Conway. Alcott said of her time with Holley, “She tells me much about her time with the freedmen, and Mother is soon deep in barrels of clothes, food, books, etc., for Miss A. to take back with her [to New York for shipment to Virginia].”2 For many years after their New York City visit, Louisa and her mother, Abba Alcott, and a circle of their friends continued to send material donations to the Holley School; school founders Holley and her partner, Caroline Putnam (1826-1917), wrote letters of thanks in reply, carefully detailing the use of donated items. Holley’s and Putnam’s letters of thanks to Concord draw a vivid picture of life in one of the earliest and longest-lived black schools in Virginia.